The City Council and its partners are supporting the new national campaign to raise awareness of the risks and warning signs of child sexual exploitation (CSE), which launched on 28th January.  CSE is a form of child sexual abuse and is happening to young people in Scotland today.  It’s often a hidden crime where the child may not understand that they are in fact a victim and so may not come forward to seek help.

The campaign comprises a new TV advert aimed at parents and carers – a UK first – supported by outdoor and digital advertising, a new website and PR activity.  Parents’ understanding of the nature of CSE is limited.  Research commissioned by the Scottish Government showed that despite 93% of parents in Scotland being aware of the term CSE, nearly one in three (29%) admit to knowing little about what it actually is and over a third (36%) don’t accept that CSE could affect their family.  The reality is CSE can happen to any young person of any gender and family background.  Young people can be targeted online or in reality.

The national campaign also targets children and young people aged 11-17 urging them to trust their instincts when it comes to their relationships either on or offline.

The more parents, carers and young people are aware about the dangers of child sexual exploitation – including the ways in which it can happen, who it can affect and the behavioural warning signs that could indicate a child is at risk of abuse or already being affected – the more that can be done to protect young people.  Together we can all help to keep children and young people in Scotland safe.

Aberdeen City, where we have a Zero Tolerance approach to CSE, welcomes this campaign.  In the last few months, 361 professionals across the Aberdeen City multi agency workforce have been trained in identifying and responding to CSE, a major CSE Conference was held at the AECC, procedures have been refined, a short guide has been produced, and extended guide is about to be issued.  Abby’s room is a resource which can be borrowed and, by exploring her bedroom and Facebook page, parallels are drawn between Abby’s real and actual world.

For more information on the national campaign, please visit csethesigns.scot and share your message of support using the hashtag #CSEthesigns .

For local information and resources visit http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/social_care_health/social_work/childrens_services/chi_ChildProtect.asp

Written by aberdeenccblog

Chief Executive of Aberdeen City Council. All views are my own.